Before get into debunking common SEO myths, let me ask a question. After you get done reading this answer the following question honestly. How many of these so-called tips have you heard of? If the answer is more than 5 it is not surprising.
#1. Word count will increase SERP rankings
Word count is a hot topic right now in digital marketing, but its not the only thing that matters to search engines. It's more important to have better quality content rather than focusing on having 1000-1500 words or more. By focusing on creating quality content on your website, you provide readers with better value. Think about it, if your favorite restaurant has a website and started a blog, would you read it if it didn't make any sense? Of course not. Websites need to be readable by search engines.
- Pick topics that naturally contain lots of content
- Utilize a reading format that the intended audience can easily follow along with
- Keywords are important but don't overdo it
- Use references and citations to credible resources if needed
- Use correct page structure
#2. An SSL certificate is not needed for my website
This myth has been circulating for years now. Google recommends that websites should have an SSL certificate because it instills trust with users. Be aware that not all SSL certificates are the same. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. This is a secure connection between the browser and the server and the certificate is a key that is installed on the server. When you go to a website and see a small lock in the address bar, this is telling you the website is configured with a certificate. Search engines will give a rank boost to websites that have a certificate vs no certificate. The boost factor is a slight one but worth it.
- Use a 2048-bit key certificate
- Avoid no-index meta tag
- Allow the website to be crawled
- Know which type of certificate you need (EV, DV, OV)
#3. If I use ads I can get ranked faster
Having a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign running is a sure-fire way to have traffic come to your website. It might be good leads, bad leads and might lead to conversions, however, it does nothing with ranking. A PPC campaign is delivering an advertisement to a user that you are paying for. An organic search means the searcher went looking for the information.
- Ads will help generate traffic, but not organic traffic.
- Ads are primarily for brand/product awareness
- Use a strategy that combines organic and PPC
#4. There is a Google Sandbox for new websites
There is no sandbox. This is just a word that somebody made up. What is really meant by the term "sandbox" is a penalty. Yes, Google's algorithms will flag a website suspicious of not abiding by Google rules, however, it's exactly that. A website doesn't get sandboxed. Even John Mueller says there is no "sandbox". Now there might be a time where it takes search engines to pick up on the site, which SEO'ers can think that's the "sandbox".
- Be patient with SEO
- SEO usually takes a long time to have an effect, from months to over a year
#5. The more backlinks you have the higher you rank
The more backlinks you the higher your rankings will be are simply false. Yes, backlinks are important but they don't affect rankings like how you would think. You could have 1000 backlinks but they could all be bad backlinks. Google has changed its algorithm to penalize backlinks that are spammy.
What matters is having good quality backlinks and supplementing that with good quality content. And yes, good backlinks can give a small boost.
- Focus on producing quality content
- Backlinks from reputable websites are good
#6. Guaranteed #1 spot
This myth is like a fantasy. As the old adage goes — if it's too good to be true, it probably is. There is no guarantee that you will ever be in the #1 spot on Google or any other search engine unless outrun the competition and sometimes that can't produce a #1 ranking.
- Instead of focusing on being #1, focus on quality content first. Rankings will come with time
- Don't fall for the #1 spot scam
- SEO takes time, be patient
#7. I only have to worry about H1, H2, and image alt tags
When we talk about on-page SEO we are referring to what a search engine will see when it crawls a website. This is the HTML source code that makes up the page. Heading (h1, h2) and images are a small component of on-page optimization. On-page SEO is a basic check for meta description, title, headings, and supporting content beneath the headings. Image alt tags are also a part of on-page SEO. Google will see the page and try to understand what the page is about then decide if it's a quality website to rank.
- Be sure every page has meta description and titles
- Every page should have at least 1 - H1 ad H2
- Every image should have alt text that describes the image
- Concentrate on creating quality content
#8. The more keywords you have, the higher you will rank
Keywords are an important component of ranking algorithms, however search engines look at the frequency the keywords are used. This is a game-changer. Keyword density is the frequency of specific keywords that are in a piece of content. As a general guideline for keyword density (KD), use a keyword once every 100-200 words of content to be on the safe side. The fact is, using too many keywords, hurts ranking.
- Don't overuse keywords
- Stay around 2-3% KD, but not above 3%
- Do your keyword research before writing content
#9. A sitemap will increase search rankings
This myth is one of the classic fairytale SEO myths that seem to never go away. A sitemap is important, however, having one won't give a ranking boost. Sitemaps are important in SEO but they are not a factor in search rankings. A sitemap is used by a search engine crawler (spider) to help it find URLs for a domain and index the URLs. A sitemap will help a search engine index a website more efficiently due to crawl budget.
- A sitemap may not be needed for a website with a few pages
- A larger site with hundreds or thousands of pages should have a sitemap
- Create an XML sitemap and submit it to
- Create a sitemap so search engines can scan a website more efficiently
#10. You shouldn't worry about duplicate content
The fact is, duplicate content is a nightmare for both search engines and for developers. It will negatively impact search rankings because it tends to confuse the search engine and searchers. Duplicate content is when the same content appears on a different URL. Search engines won't know which of the duplicate content to present and it could be the wrong one period. The lesson here, mitigate and stop duplicate content.
- Avoid variations of URLs
- Use one of https|http and www|non-www
- Use rel="canonical" tag to show the page that should be indexed
- Be consistent in using www or non-www
- Use no-index when applicable
#11. Page speed is only for users
The truth about this is page speed can actually kill your rankings if its too slow. Page speed is an important factor in ranking and the slower the page, the less the rank. We use Lighthouse to run our tests. There are 3 measurements that are critical called Core Web Vitals that make up the performance test. The 3 Core Web Vitals are Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID) and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). These measurements need to be kept to a minimum for a website to rank high.
#12. If I use Google Analytics I will rank higher in Google Search results
This one is definitely one that used to spread around like wildfire. No, Google Analytics doesn't help you get ranking. It has no ranking signals whatsoever. Google Analytics is not required for search. Google Analytics is simply an analytics tool that harvests user data for websites and web applications.
Hopefully, this clears up some of the SEO myths that have been circulating around the topic. Before you leave, another tip on SEO; always get your information from a reputable SEO professional or website.
As always, if you need help with anything related to SEO check some of our SEO services page. If you're into Digital Marketing head over to our Digital Marketing blog posts. As always, if you have any questions feel free to contact us.